Wednesday, October 20, 2010

OperaDelaware's "La Traviata" and Phila's 1812 Productions.

From the characters and plot of Puccini's 1896 'La Boheme' came Jonathan Larson's revolutionary rock opera 'Rent'. Julia Roberts' landmark film, 'Pretty Woman', is based loosely on Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata”, to be performed Nov. 7 at 2 pm and Nov. 12 & 13 at 7:30 pm at The Grand.
Making her OperaDelaware debut as Violetta, the prostitute with a heart of gold, is soprano Colleen Daly of Columbia, Md., a graduate of Philadelphia’s prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts. Daly had performed at OperaDelaware’s Studio Series on the Riverfront and Executive Director Lee Kimball enthused, “We heard her voice firsthand in our Studio Series and immediately hired for the main stage opera.”
The opera is a poignant love story drawn from an autobiographical novel by Alexander Dumas about a young man from the country (Alfredo) who falls passionately in love with (this is opera, and passion is historically the main motivator of action) a glamorous Parisian courtesan (Violetta). Against her better instincts, she succumbs to his advances and leaves the glittering Parisian demi-monde to live with him in a secluded country villa.  Their idyllic life is threatened when Alfredo’s father arrives to demand that Violetta leave his son to protect the family honor. Violetta agrees and returns to Paris, where her life falls apart when she contracts tuberculosis. Alfredo returns to care for her, but their reunion is brief and the opera ends tragically. (It didn't end this way with Richard Gere).
Verdi wrote “La Traviata” ( “The Fallen Woman”) at the height of his powers in 1853, and some consider it his most beautiful opera.  Numerous divas have considered it a signature role, most notably Maria Callas. 
Joining Ms. Daly in the production will be tenor Alok Kumar (Alfredo) of Somerville, Mass., who has sung with Santa Fe Opera, Austin Lyric Opera and the Spoleto Festival in Italy.
Kimball, a veritable umo universale of opera – and one of the state's great advocates for the performing arts - normally stage directs. With this production he will be designing the set.
A free lecture will be presented one hour before each performance.  
'La Traviata' will be presented in Italian with instant projected translations in English, call 800-37-GRAND, or go to  Student rush tickets at $10 are available one half hour before each performance.

1812 Productions – Philadelphia – Plays and Players Theatre 1714 Delancey St
'Why I'm Scared of Dance' – one woman show written and acted and 'danced' by Jen Childs
“Those who can't do”, cries Jen Childs, “mock!” As a child Jen played the flute, but she always dreamed of 'the dance'. Her female cousins were very good dancers, both being long, limber and lithe. Jen was tres short and a bit wide around the buttocks.
Poor Jen's physical characteristics mitigated against a career on pointe. She found her calling in comedy. In this 70 minute tour de force, she mocks not only her stuck up, snotty cousins but herself as well. While 'the dance' is the driver in this original production, the title is a metaphor for anyone who has aspired to greatness in a field where greatness was never to be.
Childs studied with several Philadelphia dancers and choreographers who work in a potpourri of styles. She took to the studio to study basic ballet, hip hop, Broadway jazz, modern and finally improvisational dance. “Each”, she states, “have a special place in my story and a different type of fear connected with them.”
She gamely attempts all of them, but Aisle Say suggests most emphatically she hang up her ballet shoes for good after the run of the show. Of course it was all in fun, 1812 Productions being a strictly comedy house, but Childs displayed most precision with hip hop. At the end of the day, it's not the fear that's extraordinary, it's what you do about it.
Through October 31. 215.592.9560

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